My First Half Marathon

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On September 1st, I and my wife woke up at 4 am with excitement and nervousness. It was marathon day. We left our friends’ house and walked toward the Hyatt Hotel in Poipu to get on the shuttle bus. Generous friends of ours invited us to stay at their house the night before the Marathon event. The town closed the roads along the running course early in the morning. So, we’re advised to use the shuttle bus provided by the event coordinators to avoid the traffic.

The morning was still dark and humid. Luckily, our friends’ house was located within a 5-minute walking distance from the Hyatt hotel. We followed the road and soon joined a long line of people who wore tank tops, shorts, and running shoes. Even though it’s completely dark, the strong perfume of sunblock mixed with sweat filled the hotel entrance area. We joined the exciting energy of the group. Our energy was only amplified as the shuttle was approaching the event place.

More than 2,200 people joined the Kauai Marathon in 2019. They came from all over the 50 states, and 15 different countries. Mayor of Kauai, Derek Kawakami also joined to run the half marathon. This event brought lots of tourists to the island.

My wife came to support me. She is my cheerleader and motivational coach. She stayed at Starbucks and I headed to the starting line leaving her behind me. As I watched the stars disappear and the sunlight growing beyond the silhouette of monkeypod trees, I strode toward the starting line.

When I reflected on what happened for the last six months, running a half marathon seemed to be a miracle to me. Because I was sedentary six months ago.

 

What happened in the last six months?

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I like technology. Yet, I didn’t realize how deeply technology can change our life until I used a smartwatch last year. This smartwatch told me my heart rate, sleeping pattern, and physical activities in real-time. It shocked me when I discovered that I barely walked 2,000 steps a day. I didn’t have many chances to walk because I was working at home at the time. It was a wake-up call.

To escape from my sedentary lifestyle, I made time for a walk in the morning. The watch was set to 6,000 steps as a default goal. Although it was not easy for me to reach the goal, I enjoyed my morning-walk routine.

One day, I felt so good while I was walking. Suddenly, I felt like running. I haven’t run seriously for the last 3 years.

‘Can I run?’ My first response was ‘doubt’. I’m 47 years old, and I heard lots of information saying that running hurts your knees and joints when you run after 40. People recommended walking instead of running. After all the information, I thought I would never run anymore in my life.

The information was very stubborn but my body wanted to run. As the debate got intense, I found my legs starting to run. Wow, it felt good!

However, within a minute, I heard a clear and loud voice from inside.

‘Hey, what are you doing? Are you crazy? Stop it. Stop now. Oh my god! Hey hey! Stooooop!!!’

My ankles were sore. Knees were hurting. My heart was about to explode and lungs felt like they were being torn apart. It confirmed that the information was right. Running after 40 must not be a good idea.

* After reading about marathon training later, I learned that it takes 30 – 50 seconds for the aerobic energy system to take over anaerobic energy. At the time, I was not trained, so my anaerobic energy ran out quickly while my aerobic energy was not ready to take over. So, I was totally knocked out.

 

Running a Half Marathon in 6 Months

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Three books inspired me to start running and guided me for safe training.

The first book: Miracle Morning

In April, I read a book called “Miracle Morning”. It’s about waking up early and doing something to develop oneself. The main point of the book is that if we want to achieve something, first we need to develop ourselves in order to deserve it. So, developing oneself should be the top priority in one’s life and the early morning before he/she is engaged with daily life is the best time to do it. And, the author (Hal Elrod) said he could train and run marathons and even ultramarathons as he woke up early.

That book inspired me a lot in many aspects of my life. I felt like I could do anything. If I can do anything, why don’t I run a marathon?

The second book about running the first marathon

My second book was a book about running the first marathon. I found it on Amazon and read it quickly. That book made me feel like I already crossed the finish line. At the end of April, I started to practice to run with the plan which the book suggested. The first week was tough. I wrote a journal after the first week of running. (Click to read the first week of my running training)

In the third week of the training, I got seriously injured as I pushed myself too hard. I couldn’t lift up my right leg or lie down flat on the floor because of my lower back pain. I had to stop my training for a whole week.

The third book: Building Your Running Body

Finally, I found the third book, “Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, from Milers to Ultramarathoners – Run Farther, Faster, and Injury-Free”

I’m still reading this book, but now I understand how I can train my body without injury.

Soon, I made a revised plan and stuck to it. Sometimes, my body felt heavy before the training. Yet, once I started to sweat, I felt great. Sometimes, I felt like I could run faster (we call it runner’s high). Still, I stuck to the plan and kept my pace slow. Because I knew that even if I trained slowly, eventually it would help me to run faster on race day.

After 5 months, my body was ready to run a half marathon.

 

My first half marathon

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More than 2,000 runners were waiting as we blocked the entire road. Finally, at 6 AM, Hawaiian warriors blew shell horns to announce the race start. Once the race started, my nervousness and excitement disappeared. I just ran as I trained.

It was an amazing feeling which I’ve never expected. I still vividly remember every moment, every turn, every hill, every encounter on the road during the race. Smiles of volunteers, cheers of crowds, raindrops after the midpoint.

I crossed the finish line after 2 hours 7 minutes 46 seconds. My wife was waiting for me there.

 

My Half Marathon Training Log

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My Half Marathon Training Log

 

 

Why do I run?

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Why do I run? First, I ran to build confidence in myself. In the beginning, I listened to music which boosts confidence when I ran. “I can do it” types of music. Yet, it was not quite comfortable and I enjoyed running without music. I just reflected on myself or observed my surroundings. Running became my meditation.

Soon, I started to communicate with the (is)land while I ran. Actually, running is constant interaction with the land. Without land, you can’t move forward even an inch. How can I not communicate with the (is)land? My contemplation went on.

When my wife and I moved to Kauai in Hawaii 4 years ago, this island accepted us and protected us while we gained our strength back. It nurtured us. As I ran, this realization became strong. Then, I decided to dedicate my running to this (is)land and the people living on it.

I run to bring down bright energy on this (is)land. When I run on the roads, I wish my running lifts up the energy of the people using the roads and families living in this community. That became my reason to run.

Now, I continue to train to run a full marathon.

 

My Running Statistics

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when I crossed the finish line

 

Kauai Half Marathon 2019 Shawn S Lee with Bob

I ran with CEO of Kōloa Rum, Bob Gunter. He finished the race second in his age group. He is my inspiration.

 

My Course Record

Kauai Half Marathon 2019 record Shawn S Lee

 

Statistics from My Smartwatch

 

Kauai Half Marathon Data from smartwatch1

 

Kauai Half Marathon Data from smartwatch2